Muralist Erin Ibarra on Her New ‘Goddess of the Sea’ at Waikiki Malia
When it comes to illustrations, Erin Ibarra is, well, the chalkboard queen. A self-taught artist, Ibarra's connection to the islands showcases an intimacy and singular beauty to her works that really brings the spirit of aloha to life.
"There's so much life and color happening in Hawaiian waters that we can often be so unaware of since popular images like dolphins and humuhumu always take center stage," says Ibarra. "There's so much more."
And Ibarra's newest work "Malia" at the low-key hip Waikiki Malia hotel is an expansive, enchanting depiction of a coral-clad sea goddess that nods to the island's spirit of colorful sea creatures (and adventure!). With a crown of "coral flowers" and imagery of the surrounding ocean life, the piece embodies the spirit of both Waikiki and the namesake of the hotel itself.
"There are some really amazing corals in here—cup coral, black coral, and this image that looks like a rose is actually a naked mollusk, so there's are nudes in here," jokes Ibarra of the layered components of the work.
Ibarra's vision imagined the goddess as a beautiful woman personifying the surrounding reef, with bright blue eyes and various sea life that remind guests that the reef is a living, breathing habitat. She hopes the bold, beautiful artwork will not just welcome visitors to Waikiki culture, but also act as an invitation to embrace it—and even make it their very own.
"I really want Waikiki Malia guests to see themselves in this mural," Ibarra explains, "Perhaps a girl who comes to Hawaii and goes snorkeling and sees the fish or hikes to the top of the mountains, she is the adventurer that stays here at the Malia."
An ability to see beyond convention is also integral to the story of Ibarra's ascension as a professional artist. Ibarra is one of the Beachcomber Originals who helped create the interior ambience at the Waikiki Beachcomber, and the the spirit that Ibarra's works represent makes each stay truly feel like an adventure to the best of the islands. Check out more of Ibarra's works and book your own vibrant culture and aloha adventure at Waikiki Malia now.